Wetlands are key habitats for a large number of aquatic and terrestrial species, and are significant components of larger hydrologic systems that provide important ecosystem services to human communities. Accurate wetland inventories, in combination with current assessments of ecological condition and rates of historic loss, are critical for the effective management and conservation of wetland ecosystems.
Our team used a combination of optical remote sensing and terrain processing of LiDAR data to create the current wetland inventory. For each wetland identified in the current inventory, ecological and hydrologic condition was evaluated using a desktop-based assessment approach. Finally, a historic wetland inventory was created using air photographs from 1950. Comparing the current and historical inventory provided an estimate of historic wetland loss between 1950 and 2013.
Information from this study has been used by decision makers in Parkland County to identify high-priority wetlands for conservation or special management, and has helped the County target wetland restoration resources. The wetland inventories also provide Parkland County with important baseline information that can be used to track change in wetland area and value into the future, such that the success of restoration and environmental policies can be tracked and evaluated over time.